Kojiki has a Cover

After too long away, I’m back to show you the cover for my debut novel, Kojiki, available Aug. 2 in the US and Aug 4 in the UK. Look for it pretty much everywhere you buy your books. Click here to read the first chapter or visit fantasy-faction.com.

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Thanks to my publisher Angry Robot Books and fantastic cover artist Thomas Walker.

 

When a Reader Says THIS, It Reminds You Why You Write

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Last year, a blogger approached me for a review copy of my debut novel, Kojiki. She gave it glowing marks; she also gave it to a friend she thought would like it. That friend not only liked it; she RAVED about it. So, when Torii came out–a short story prequel to Kojiki–I made sure this person knew about it. Here’s what she had to say:

“I finished it and felt bad for wanting so much more. But there again, that’s the sign of a good book, and well developed characters you feel like you know personally and want to share in their story and what happens to them down the line.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and felt my heart break when Botua died… the feeling of horror from Vissyus in his child-like state, replete with unheard of power, yet too broken to wield it properly and ending up hurting those he loves… Lon-Shan risking all for the job of a hero, all of it… and the entire thing wrapping up being this big massive thing that went totally awry that the big man didn’t want his people to find out about through history, so instead… made up something more palatable and noble, so they wouldn’t fear what lurked in the future. Oh, and the formation of the barrier by his own guardian, the entire thing was so epic…

I truly can’t say anything that will encompass how it makes me feel to be put back into a world that delights me this much. And, I was going to enshrine that book you sent me, but I felt like it would have been wrong in so many ways because something that good NEEDS to be shared until it’s pages are lovingly worn, the spine has multiple lines down the center, despite everyone being careful as they read it… I borrow it to everyone I can, and stress to them the importance of giving it back. It’s easily one of my most precious possessions, and I have few of those

You didn’t disappoint, but I didn’t figure you would.”

My reaction to these words was a mixture of awe and humility! Oh, and Torii is available from musapublishing.com as a FREE download. It’ll show up soon on other retailers too. Look for it!

Book Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Go Get it

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Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds is a great read and a must for new YA authors. Why? Because it’s about a YA author’s journey from acceptance to published book with many twists and turns and enough YA fiction to keep you turning the pages. Mr. Westerfeld cements  the book’s themes right away. The book starts where every author’s publishing journey begins–with the dreaded query letter. I was hooked the second I read that section, and I eagerly devoured any publishing tidbit Mr. Westerfeld threw my way. From YA parties and house-styles, to Darcy Patel’s–the book’s protagonist–insecurities over her edits, writing, and success, Afterworlds teaches as much about YA publishing, if not more, than many publishing websites. It gets into the weeds–speaks to authors about promotion, book tours and events, about success and the industry’s business side. All of this through the eyes of a teen unprepared for what’s about to happen to her. Westerfeld’s Darcy is every author. She struggles with her creation, frets over deadlines, criticisms, and the book itself.

Said book is, in fact, Afterwords, presented in connection and in context with Darcy’s real-world story. Darcy’s Afterwords is a paranormal story with a hint of romance. It’s fast and exciting, and its main character, Lizzie, seems as real as Darcy herself. Lizzie is the only survivor of a terrorist attack at Dulles/FT Worth Airport. A strange change came over her during the assault, and she falls into the Afterworld, a place that’s part underworld, part purgatory. There, she meets, Yamaraj, a fellow psychopomp, or guide for the dead. As Lizzie’s story unfolds, she learns how to use her growing power, despite Yamaraj’s warnings, and starts to fall head-over-heels in love with the handsome young man.

The fictional Afterworlds unfolds alongside Darcy Patel’s path to publication. Mr. Westerfeld balances the two deftly, shrewdly giving the reader tense, compelling chapters from one story exactly when the other one is in exposition. As a result, the book doesn’t hit the lulls frequent in other titles. One story zooms along and when it hits its natural slow scenes, the other picks up.

Darcy is a wonderful character, talented and insecure, and thrown into NYC well before she’s ready. Mr. Westerfeld constantly reminds us of her immaturity by giving her an impulsive nature. She’s on a tight budget but can’t resist the city’s allure. Her relationship with fellow writer and ultimate girlfriend, Imogen White, is touching and tender, especially in how it both advances and hinders her writing. Ultimately, that relationship and its ups and downs–particularly at the end, are mirrored in her final Afterworld revisions. You feel the loneliness and insecurity. The questioning and the fragile faith in both stories. It’s subtle and beautifully handled.

Mr. Westerfeld’s insights into publishing and Darcy’s trials and tribulations are spot on. Including the actual YA book along with Darcy Patel’s journey is a stroke of genius. A careful reader will spot how Darcy’s life and experiences change her novel, particularly at the end–an end that Darcy frets over for much of the book.

This review is from the ARC handed out at Book Expo America, (BEA). On a side note, BEA is one of the book’s many settings. I loved reading about it. Mr. Westerfeld captures it perfectly–as he does with so much of the book.

4.5 Stars. A MUST for authors.

Afterwords is due out in September from Simon and Schuster.

 

 

A 5-Star Review for KOJIKI from Tammy’s Tea Time Book Review Blog

From Tammy’s Team Time

Kojiki Blog Tour

Book Info-
Title- Kojiki
By- Keith Yatsuhashi
Published- April 19th, 2013
Published by- Musa Publishing
Genre-YA
Book Blurb-
When eighteen-year-old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”
Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfill her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession–that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane.
The Earth itself is at stake, and as Keiko fights to save it, strange, dormant abilities stir within her. She suspects they are vital to her world’s survival, but to summon them, she must first unlock the mysteries within herself and a past shrouded in mystery.
My Review: I had my reservations about this book in the beginning and thought I’m not going to be able to get in to this story. I probably won’t even like it I thought to myself. I could not have been more wrong! I couldn’t put it down. As a matter of fact I am re-reading it right now to see what I may have missed the first time. The elements in this story just took my breath away. Every scene is so well described that you can picture it all as it plays right out in front of you off every page. Without being overdone KeithYatsuhashi did an amazing job with the characters as well. You couldn’t help but love them. Just like every adventure story you have your good guys and at least one villain and there is no shortage of that in this story. You quickly get a glimpse of both good and bad in here; you just have to learn who really is the good guy and who the true villain is. Come on, you didn’t expect me to tell you who they are and spoil the thrill ride for you did you? Kojiki holds so many layers to it. I was just blown away by the detail and time given to this story to make it so that every reader had just enough room to let your imagination flow through to make the story your own as it plays out. I so enjoyed the characters. Keiko is such a wonderful character that gets thrown into a world she doesn’t understand all while she is trying to still grieve the loss of her beloved father. Yui Akiko takes the world by storm and helps Keiko try to figure all of this stuff out. Yui has her own way of doing things though and rather than slowly introducing things slowly she is left to give Keiko a crash course of what she needs to know. As Keiko learns what must be done to save the world from the evil that lurks to destroy it she must also figure out what this all has to do with her and why her father’s dying wish was for her to go Japan and discover a gate and herself. Kojiki was a thrill ride right from the beginning that you barely have time to catch your breath before you are off again with a bang! I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story! I would highly recommend Kojiki to anyone who wants a high paced action packed grab you by the seat of your pants adventure.
5/5
 
Links-
Kobo-
Author Info–
Keith Yatsuhashi was born in 1965 in Boston, MA. He graduated from Northeastern University in 1989 and is currently the Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
Keith was a competitive figure skater for ten years, winning the U.S. National Junior Dance Championships in 1984, a bronze medal in the 1983 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, and a silver medal in 1984.
In addition to his love of writing, Keith enjoys many hobbies such as golf, reading, and playing football and hockey with his sons. Keith currently lives in Norfolk, MA with his wife, Kathleen and three children—Caitlin, Jeffrey, and Justin.
Links-

I Can Haiku. Can You?

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The other night, my son told me his class had to write a haiku. He shared a few from his fellow students, all incredibly creative–one, that I previously quoted here turned out to be floating around the web for quite some time–Doh! I’ll have to let my son know. It’ll make a nice lesson. It’s REALLY easy for students to get busted nowadays 🙂

Anyway, back to the Haiku. I loved that my son’s class was learning about them. Not long ago, Haiku saved me from a frustrating bout of writer’s block.  Writers always get stuck at one point or another, often more than one. For me, it happened with the notoriously difficult-to-tell backstory.  I’d made all the cliche rookie mistakes: too much backstory too soon, tell don’t show, interrupting the story’s flow. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda.

I just couldn’t figure out why Kojiki’s backstory gave me such a hard time. It wasn’t because I needed to write it, I already had–it’s just that I didn’t know how to integrate it into the story’s narrative. I decided, for a few key scenes, to use the characters’ powers–it IS fantasy–as a vehicle for them to share their memories.  It turned out to work fairly well, but I didn’t want to overuse it.  I knew I needed something else, a little variety to keep the narrative fresh.  While the ultimate solution works really well, it doesn’t reflect the crazy path I took to find it.

Remember now, I wanted Kojiki to be a big, heroic epic. An emotional roller-coaster for the characters. It had to be serious and grim. Never in my wildest dreams did I think one of the crassest, most juvenile shows on TV would help me out. That show was Beavis and Butthead.  Yes, you read that correctly. Beavis and Butthead. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit the show often has me in stitches. If you never been a 14-year-old boy, you won’t get it. If you have, then you’ve lived it.

The episode in question had the little delinquents learning about the ‘ancient Japanese art of haiku’.  Needless to say, their haiku were ridiculous. Funny–but ridiculous.

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Halfway through Beavis’s numbingly stupid yet hilarious haiku, I started messing around with haiku in my head. They were just as stupid. Then, something incredible happened.  Inspiration. I realized a haiku would make the perfect delineator for Kojiki’s past and present.  Instead of cueing the reader with the bland ‘The Distant Past’, which I still used by the way, I opened each backstory scene with a haiku.  The reader would know, whenever he/she came across the haiku, we were going to backstory.  I made sure I kept those particular backstory scenes in concurrent chapters to avoid confusion, and viola! Bob’s your uncle.

A little research on haiku courtesy of Google, and I was back in business. I already knew about the format, I just needed to learn more about form. Most haiku have an ethereal feel to them. Like mist on a mountain. I had to go through a couple of versions, but I am pleased with the result. In the end, Kojiki has three haiku, the first of which I’ll use to close this post:

A woman hungers 

Spring turns into winter snow

Winter brings the fire

The moral of the story here, inspiration can come from the strangest places. Keep your eyes and your mind open, and sooner or later, it’ll come.

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Fool Me Once, Hollywood…

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Hope’s a funny thing. It can obliterate common sense, override reason, and make you believe something you ordinarily won’t. We know better, but that doesn’t stop us. 

Take this new Godzilla movie. I HOPE it’s good. I really want it to be. But whenever Hollywood gets its hands on something like this, I’m always disappointed. Sure, the people behind the movie say all the right things, but the press releases, most of them anyway, keep dashing my hopes. Where is the Japanese cast? News of Japanese location shooting? Nonexistent. All of which points an ‘Americanized’ version. Again. I can’t tell you how much hate that approach. French vintners hate California wines less than I hate this. 

No studio would ever reset Harry Potter in the US. So why Godzilla? It doesn’t make any sense. I can’t tell you how happy I am the rumored US version of Yamato never happened. Remember that one? If not, a little refresher: the writers, afraid US audiences wouldn’t accept an enemy battleship as Earth’s savior, thought about recasting the iconic Yamato with the iconic Arizona. Yes, I understand the thinking, and no, that didn’t make me hate it any less.

Similar ‘reimagining’ swirled around the Akira movie. With Keanu Reeves attached to it no less. Yeah, THAT’s a movie I’d want to see. You know, for all it’s faults, at least Speed Racer kept things somewhat faithful to the original–right down to the theme music. Which reminds me. Leave out the Godzilla theme from Godzilla and there’ll be hell to pay–legalities be damned. I might just have to see Wheedon’s Much Ado About Nothing instead. Oh wait…

*Be sure to pick up my anime-inspired ebook, Kojiki. Available this Friday, April 19 at MusaPublishing.com, Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, etc. Written by an anime fan for anime fans.